We took a big leap and tried out a whole-grade suspension bridge building activity in the 3rd grade today! The idea comes from an activity in the book Engineering the City by Levy and Panchyk. In the text they outline how to use cardboard and paper clips to make a model suspension bridge that can actually hold up an impressive amount of weight. It was a big challenge for the kids to persist through since there were plenty of little things to be rebuilt along they way. They had great help from their teachers and really felt accomplished once they were finished though!
4th graders are using LEGOs to explore a wide range of simple machines and mechanisms. Each class activity is centered on a specific machine or concept. Students must build in partnerships to then answer questions or reflect on observations of certain mechanical phenomena. You can see some of the activities on my grade level technology site.
We’re exploring the bridges of NYC in 3rd Grade Math, Social Studies and Technology classes this year. I found a great truss bridge activity from the book The Art of Construction by Mario Salvadori. You’ll need tongue depressors and brass paper fasteners to make triangles and then rigid trusses. Students love to build and with their truss in hand it really clicks why engineers use to many triangles in the structures that we see around us.